In most high school sports, 19th place won't win many district titles. But cross-country isn't most sports, and Wednesday, 19th place was just fine with the Potomac Falls team and its No. 6 runner, freshman Joe Gavin.
Handley and the Panthers were tied for first at 48 after the scoring of their top five runners at the Virginia AA Northwestern District cross-country championships Wednesday at Great Meadow in The Plains. With the tiebreaker being the highest finish of the sixth man, Gavin placed 19th in 17 minutes 56 seconds, Handley's sixth man placed 22nd, and Potomac Falls won the boys team title.
It was the three-year-old Sterling school's first district title in any sport.
"I guess to a normal person, they'll see cross-country as an individual sport, but it is a team sport--and every runner counts," Panthers Coach Brian Blubaugh said. "Our sixth man gives up and does not run the race, we don't win a district title."
Said Gavin: "Coach says every person counts, and if you are in top seven you have to do everything you can."
Handley sophomore Bobby Lockhart, one of the top runners in Virginia, won the individual title by finishing the 3.1-mile course in 15:32.
Potomac Falls senior Jeff Maynard placed second overall at 16:30, while two other teammates--Neil Coleman (eighth, 17:11) and Mike Tompkins (ninth, 17:15)--also placed in the top 10.
Blubaugh feels Western Albermarle will be the only tough competition out of the district for the Virginia AA Region II championships Thursday at Rockingham Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg. The boys race is at 3 p.m.
"I think Handley and Loudoun Valley will be tough again," Blubaugh said. "I think if we are the first ones in the county, I don't see four other teams beating us."
1, Bobby Lockhart, Handley 15:32; 2, Jeff Maynard, Potomac Falls, 16:30; 3, Jonathan Tew, Loudoun Valley, 16:54; 4, David Bolton, Loudoun County, 17:00; 5, Chris Rogers, Handley, 17:02; 6, William Justice, Broad Run, 17:07; 7, James O'Kane, Handley, 17;08; 8, Neil Coleman, Potomac Falls, 17:11; 9, Mike Tompkins, Potomac Falls, 17:15; 10, Matt McWilliams, Loudoun Valley, 17:20.
1, Potomac Falls, 48; 2, Handley, 48; 3, Loudoun Valley, 56; 4, Park View, 102; 5, Loudoun County, 111; 6, Broad Run, 171; 7, Liberty, 181; 8, Warren County, 209.